[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2003 21:21:37 -0800 (PST)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                       March 2003


The International Association for Astronomical Studies

provides this newsletter as a service for interested 
persons in the Denver Metro area. The astronomical 
data presented here is not only useful in Colorado but

in other parts of the world as well.


This newsletter is published on the World Wide Web at 
http://bfa3.home.att.net/astro.html - The Home of 
KI0AR - and is received nationally and 


In This Newsletter...

* Moon
* Planets
* Astronomical Events
* Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions
* Web Sites of Interest
* Acknowledgments and References
* Subscription Information



* New Moon on the 2nd.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 11th.
* Full Moon on the 18th.
* 3rd Quarter Moon on the 24th.

* Apogee on the 7th, 251,893 mi. from Earth.
* Perigee on the 19th, 223,580 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 3 deg. south of Mercury on the 1st.
* Mercury passes 1.5 deg. south of Uranus on the 4th.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. north of Saturn on the 11th.
* Venus passes 0.2 deg. north of Neptune on the 12th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Jupiter on the 14th.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. south of Mars on the 25th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 27th.
* Venus passes 0.05 deg. north of Uranus on the 28th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Uranus on the 29th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Venus on the 29th.


(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)
Planetary Reports generated by "TheSky" software 

* Mercury - Is in superior conjunction on the 21st. 
Mercury is not visible this month.

* Venus - Rises about 4:30 am and is visible in the 
early morning sky just before sunrise. Venus shines at

magnitude -4.0.

* Earth - Vernal equinox is at 8:00 PM EST. on the 

* Mars - Is visible in the early morning sky in the 
east before sunrise. Mars rises about 2:30 am. Mars 
can be found just above the constellation of 
Sagittarius. Mars shines at magnitude 0.8.

* Jupiter - Rises around 3 pm at the beginning of the 
month. Jupiter can be found almost dead center in the 
constellation of Cancer the Crab. Look for Jupiter 
passing near M44, the Beehive Cluster, as the month 
progresses. Jupiter shines at magnitude -2.4.

* Saturn - Rises around 11:30 am on the 1st. Saturn is

located in the constellation of Taurus the Bull. Look 
to the south-southwest soon after sunset to spot 
Saturn. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.0.

* Uranus - Rises just before sunrise and will be very 
difficult to spot. Uranus shines at magnitude 5.9.

* Neptune - Rises about an hour before the Sun but may

be difficult to spot in the early morning twilight 
glow. Neptune shines at magnitude 8.0.

* Pluto - Pluto is located just to the east of the 
constellation of Ophiuchus and rises about 1:30 am. 
Pluto shines at magnitude 13.9. As always, good luck 
at spotting this one.


Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* There are some minor meteor showers this month but 
none that produce rates much higher than 2-5 per hour,

except the Gamma Normids that extend over the period 
of March 11 to 21, with the maximum occurring on March

16. The maximum rate reaches about 5-9 meteors per 

* Information on various occultations can be found at 
http://lunar-occultations.com/iota/iotandx.htm the 
International Occultation Timing Association's (IOTA) 
web site.

* Comet RX14 LINEAR is passing by the constellations 
of Ursa Major and Leo the Lion. RX14 LINEAR is shining

at a magnitude of 10. A minimum of a 4-inch telescope 
and dark sky conditions will be required to spot this 
comet. Comet LINEAR is rising in the northeast during 
the evening hours. 

* Comet C/2002 V1

* For information, orbital elements and ephemerides on

observable comets visit the Observable Comets page 
from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics 

* No significant eclipse activity this month.

* Pallas is in conjunction with the Sun on the 6th.
* Vesta is at opposition on the 26th.

* Information about the Minor Planets can be found at 
http://www.minorplanetobserver.com the Minor Planet 
Observer web site.


Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions
(Excerpts from recent mission updates)

* Genesis - February 28, 2003 - 
"Having passed mission midpoint the previous week, the

Genesis spacecraft continues to operate in overall 
good health as it soldiers on collecting solar wind 
material expelled from the Sun.

Telemetry from the Genesis spacecraft indicates that 
it is spinning at a rate of 1.598 rotations per 
minute. The spacecraft's space age ?gas gauge? 
indicates propellant usage averages out to 1.75 grams 
(0.0617284 ounces) of hydrazine a day.

Genesis Vital Statistics:
-- 568 days since launch.
-- 401 days to planned completion of solar particle 
-- 559 days to Genesis return to Earth."

The latest status reports can be read at 
l. Find out more about the Genesis mission at 
http://genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov/ and 
http://genesis.jpl.nasa.gov/html/index.shtml. Visit 
"Where Is Genesis Now? at 

* Galileo - February 26, 2003 - Galileo Team 
Disbanding as Long Jupiter Tour Winds Down - 
"The flight team for NASA's Jupiter-orbiting Galileo 
spacecraft will cease operations on Friday, Feb. 28 
after a final playback of scientific data from the 
robotic explorer's tape recorder.

The team has written commands for the onboard computer

to manage the spacecraft for its short remaining 
lifetime. Galileo will coast for the next seven months

before transmitting a few hours of science 
measurements in real time, leading up to a Sept. 21 
plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere." Read the latest 
news at http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html.

* Cassini - February 27, 2003 - NASA'S New Spacecraft 
Tool Reveals Massive Jupiter Gas Cloud - 
"Using a sensitive new imaging instrument on NASA's 
Cassini spacecraft, researchers have discovered a 
large and surprisingly dense gas cloud, sharing an 
orbit with Jupiter's icy moon Europa.

Stretching millions of miles around Jupiter, the 
donut- shaped cloud, known as a "torus," is believed 
to result from the uncommonly severe bombardment of 
ion radiation the jovian giant sends toward Europa. 
That radiation damages Europa's surface, kicking up 
and pulling apart water-ice molecules and dispersing 
them along the moon's orbit into a neutral-gas torus 
with a mass of about 60,000 tons."

"For the multinational Cassini-Huygens mission, NASA 
provided the large Cassini spacecraft, which will 
begin orbiting Saturn July 1, 2004, and the European 
Space Agency provided the Huygens probe, which will 
parachute into the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's 
largest moon, on Jan. 14, 2005." For the latest 
mission status reports, visit 
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini/english/. The speed

and location of the spacecraft can be viewed on the 
"Present Position" web page. 

* Deep Space 1 - This spacecraft was retired on Dec. 
18, 2001. Check out http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/ds1/ to 
learn more about what this mission accomplished.

* Stardust - February 28, 2003 - 
"This past week, the Stardust flight team used the 
antennas of JPL's Deep Space Network on two occasions.

Data relayed from the spacecraft during the two 
contacts indicated Stardust is healthy and all 
subsystems continue to run normally.

The Stardust spacecraft will transmit its images 
stored in the spacecraft's memory of the Pleiades star

cluster the first week of March. These Pleiades images

were taken by Stardust's navigation camera and will be

used to evaluate performance of the spacecraft 
camera's periscope."

For more information on the Stardust mission - the 
first ever comet sample return mission - please visit 
the Stardust home page: http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov 
for more information about the mission.

* Pluto-Kuiper Express 
* Europa Orbiter 
* Solar Probe 
* Many of NASA's future exploration missions are 
currently being examined. To find out more about these

discovery/exploration missions check out the web page 
at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ice_fire//whatsnew.htm for 
more information.

Mars Missions 

* Mars Global Surveyor - No new updates since December

12, 2002 - 
"This week, MGS and MOC completed an unprecedented 
second Mars year of daily global monitoring and 
detailed observations of the red planet. On 12 
December 2002, Mars returned to the exact same 
position in its orbit around the sun (or equivalently,

the exact same time of the Martian year) as it was on 
9 March 1999 and 24 January 2001. MGS has now entered 
its third Mars year, and critical monitoring of 
weather patterns continues, along with on-going 
efforts to gather high resolution images of future 
spacecraft landing sites, provide detailed studies of 
geologic features, and observe phenomena that change--
like wind streaks--over time."

The newly released MOC images can be seen in the MOC 
Gallery (http://www.msss.com/moc_gallery/), a web site

maintained by Malin Space Science Systems, the company

that built and operates MOC for the Jet Propulsion 
Laboratory and NASA.

Mars Global Surveyor is now in its sixth year orbiting

the red planet. MGS reached Mars on 12 September 1997.

The first MOC images were obtained on 15 September 
1997." Visit the MGS pages at 
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/index.html. There are 
over 100,000 images of Mars from the MGS, check out 
the newest images of the surface of Mars at 

* Mars Odyssey Orbiter - February 19, 2003 - NASA's 
Mars Odyssey Points to Melting Snow as Cause of 
Gullies - 

"Gullies on martian crater, seen by Mars Global 
Surveyor Images from the visible light camera on 
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft, combined with images 
from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, suggest melting snow

is the likely cause of the numerous eroded gullies 
first documented on Mars in 2000 by Global Surveyor."

The Odyssey data are available through a new online 
access system established by the Planetary Data System

at: http://starbrite.jpl.nasa.gov/pds/ "

Visit the Mars Odyssey Mission page at 

* Mars Exploration Rover Mission
Launch: May/July 2003
Landing: January 2004

* Mars Missions Status - New Mars missions are being 
planned to include several new rover and sample 
collection missions. 


Links and Other Space News
(If you have a link you would like to recommend to our

readers, please feel free to submit it.)

* "TheSky" Software - http://www.bisque.com

* Comet Observation Home Page - 

* The Daytona Beach News-Journal - Space News Page - 

* JPL Solar System Ambassador Program - 

* Space.com - Sky Watch Calendar - 

* Eric's Black Sun Eclipse website - 

* Astronomical Lexicon - 
Many of the astronomical terms used in this newsletter

are defined here.

* Astronomy Picture of the Day - 

* The Solar System in Pictures - http://www.the-solar-
system.net and a map of the moon - http://www.moon-

* Spaceflight Now - http://spaceflightnow.com/

* NASA Science News - http://science.nasa.gov/

* Universe Today - http://www.universetoday.com

* Space.com - http://space.com
Interesting space and astronomy articles.

* Northern Colorado Astronomical Society - 

* Denver Astronomical Society - 

* My Stars Live - http://www.mystarslive.com/
Interactive Star Chart

* Our Solar System - 
This is an excellent site to learn about our solar 


Acknowledgments and References

Much of the information in this newsletter is from 
"Astronomy Magazine" (Kalmbach Publishing), JPL 
mission status reports, the Internet, "Meteor Showers 
- A Descriptive Catalog" by Gary W. Kronk, Sky & 
Telescope web pages (S&T), and other astronomical 
sources that I have stashed on my book shelves.

The author will accept any suggestions, constructive 
criticisms, and corrections. Please feel free to send 
me any new links or articles to share as well. I will 
try to accommodate any reasonable requests. Please 
feel free to send questions, comments, criticisms, or 
donations to the email address listed below. Enjoy!


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Keep looking UP!
73 from KI0AR

Created by Burness F. Ansell, III

COO, Director of Aerospace Technologies, IAAS
Last modified: March 04, 2003

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